- Urban chickens are enjoying an upsurge in attention and popularity at the moment.
- Not only do chickens make great pets, they also provide you with delicious and cruelty-free eggs and help dispose of food waste.
- It turns out I am far from alone in rediscovering the joys of poultry husbandry, and many companies have developed small coops which are perfect for backyard flocks of two to four birds.
- For first-time poultry parents, we think the easy to clean Eglu Cube is the best chicken coop for a backyard.
I grew up on a farm, but after moving to a city, I hadn’t really entertained the idea of owning livestock. My family remained pretty intransigent in their agricultural perspective. But a few years ago, my father visited us at our new home, which was the first place we’d rented that had a garden. He mentioned that I had space for a small flock of chickens.
I looked into the city codes and found that, like many urban areas in the United States, I can legally own five chickens (no roosters) in urban San Diego. Since then Meryl Peep, Victoria Peckham, and Reese Featherspoon have not only provided many delicious breakfasts for my wife and me, they’ve also become pets.
It turns out I am far from alone in rediscovering the joys of poultry husbandry, and many companies have developed small coops that are perfect for backyard flocks of two to four birds. To get you started, we looked for coops with good weatherproofing, easy assembly, predator-proofing, and a contained run.
Here are the best chicken coops for a backyard:
- Best chicken coop overall: Omlet Eglu Cube Chicken Coop
- Best chicken coop for large flocks: Snaplock Formex Chicken Coop
- Best chicken to add to a barn or shed: Petsfit Weatherproof Outdoor Chicken Coop
Prices and links are current as of 4/8/2020. We are currently testing new backyard chicken coops for a larger update to this guide.
The best overall
The Eglu is a modern, stylish, and incredibly well-thought-out chicken coop. It holds up well, includes everything you need, and is perfect for a small flock.
In many ways, the Omlet Eglu Cube Chicken Coop is the iPhone of chicken coops. Unlike wooden coops, it doesn’t require much upkeep or maintenance. Omlet offers its own accessories, and they’re great. As long as you stick within the Eglu ecosystem, everything will work simply, easily, and reliably. But if you want to get really into the design and building of the coop, you’d better look elsewhere.
There’s an Eglu in my backyard right now, and my three chickens are happily clucking away in it working on tomorrow’s breakfast. To assemble this guide, I tested many coops in our yard. But the ease of use, great design, simple cleaning, and aesthetics of the Eglu are why we chose it as a permanent home for our feathered friends.
I love the removable floor of the roosting section, which pulls out in a second, and thanks to its plastic construction and clever grille design, I can easily pressure-wash it. There’s also a very secure lock on the back of the nesting/roosting area which allows me to easily access the laying box and check on the chickens at night.
Our chickens appreciate the shade from the cover on the run, and on days when we can’t let them out, they are able to stretch their legs in the generously sized run. We have the Eglu Cube, a model that is ample in size for our three birds and gives us the option of using the included wheels to move the run around the yard to get our girls more shade or reduce the impact of their grazing.
The predator-proofing of the coop is a great benefit – a neighbor recently had a possum dig its way into his run, but the long nit tunneling skirt on the Eglu run has kept our coop safe so far. Although the bear population where I live is low, it seems that the Eglu is even impervious to bear attack.
The secure locking on the run isn’t easily pulled open, unlike the doors on some wooden coops, and the metal-on-metal closure also means that your doors won’t swell or contract in different weather conditions (this was a frustration with wooden coops I tested). Because the run is made of a steel mesh, rather than netting attached to a wooden frame, there’s no need to replace netting as the fastening on the frame comes off or the wood warps.
My wife and I put the coop together in an afternoon. It wasn’t a 15-minute affair, but if you can handle an Ikea table, you are more than qualified for this. The instructions were clear, and all parts were clearly labeled. Everything is well made, and tolerances are tight. There aren’t gaps, and all the doors swing perfectly shut.
The nontraditional looks of the Eglu might not be for everyone, but I think the coop looks great. It certainly looks better than our last wooden chicken coop, which did not take kindly to a particularly wet winter and began to develop a leak. Other wood coop users have suffered from mite problems, which can be hard to eradicate.
The Eglu Cube isn’t cheap, but it will require a lot less maintenance and replacement than a wooden coop, and it should keep your flock safe from just about everything.
Pros: Secure, durable, easy to clean and use
Cons: Nontraditional appearance
The best for large flocks
The SnapLock Formex is a serious coop, but it is built to house a large flock for a long time. If you’re serious about raising chickens, this is the prosumer poultry palace for you.
If you’ve been well and truly pecked by the poultry passion, you’re probably looking for a replacement for your first coop. You may have become really interested in those larger traditional breeds, but don’t have the space for any more birds. Don’t worry, I feel your pain, and so do the people at SnapLock. The solution to your chicken conundrum is the SnapLock Formex Large, a coop that can hang with even the most avid of poultry parents.
What makes this coop a good choice for larger flocks? Well, first off, it’s huge. There are four nesting spots with removable dividers and three 36-inch roosts. It’s also easy to clean thanks to the removable roof and floor and the use of high-quality plastic parts. Adjustable ventilation keeps your chickens cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and the coop itself just snaps together in very little time with no tools required.
The coop is easily assembled, durable, and functional and that it is easy to access nests, roosts, and litter trays. Most buyers did build an additional stand, a ramp up to the door, and of course an enclosed run, but this should take a few hours at most, and the snaplock construction of the coop will save you that much time compared to building a coop from the ground up. Unlike a custom wooden coop, even with 8 to 10 chickens, the SnapLock shouldn’t start to smell as the flock’s waste won’t soak into plastic in the way it does into wood.
As an out-of-the-box solution for a large flock, the SnapLock coop offers pretty good value (at under $100 per chicken, it work out cheaper per bird than our value beginner coop). Sure, you will need more space for this than the other coops here, but if you are serious about owning a larger flock, this coop makes the upgrade easy.
Pros: Durable, easy to construct
Cons: Hard to move around
The best to add to a barn or shed
If you already have a weatherproof space, you just need a safe and contained area for your birds, and the Petsfit Weatherproof Outdoor Chicken Coop is a great value starter.
If you are fortunate enough to own a shed, garage, barn, or stable, you don’t need quite as much in the way of aviary architecture. But just throwing a nesting box in an open space isn’t the best option as your chickens will still appreciate a safe place to lay and roost. Also, by providing a nesting box you will avoid the fun game of “find the egg,” which is the result of letting your birds roost and nest freely.
Although the Petsfit is billed as an outdoor coop, it seems like a bit of a false economy to buy this over a run-included coop. The money you save will be more than offset by the cost of building a run. However, if you have an indoor space for your birds and plan on letting them range freely around your yard, then this is a great solution. There is a nicely contained nesting box with a roof for easy access.
The flooring of the coop technically comes out, but in practice, this isn’t easy. If you plan to keep this coop long term, you should add a hinge to the roof of the main section rather than nailing it closed – this will allow reasonably easy cleaning access.
This is also a great coop for ducks. If you have a fenced-in pond, they’ll just need a place to retreat to at night, and this coop has ample space for up to three waterfowl. As with all of these wooden coops, do expect weather to take a toll if you leave it out in all conditions, but it isn’t a huge investment. Simply adding weatherproof paint will help it last through several wet winters. I also recommend replacing the door closures if you plan on leaving this coop outside where it is accessible to predators – the peace of mind is worth the $10 it will cost you.
Pros: Small footprint, cheap
Cons: Only works with a run or other space for chickens to run around